Gainax does it again with another dizzying comedy very much in the spirit of FLCL. However, Gainax is not the type of studio to simply repeat the same thing over and over, and as such Abenobashi clearly stands on its own two legs.
First off, I'll speak of the art. Abenobashi is done in a bright, visually pleasing style very similar to the animation of FLCL, Gainax's other recent comedy series. It is high quality, and the dizzying animation style keeps pace with the equally dizzying storyline to leave your head spinning.
Second, the characters. Sasshi and Arumi, the two main characters, make for a cute couple, and their constantly-at-odds personalities provide a great deal of the humor of the series. In general, the characters are all quirky, bizarre, and interesting, from the town transvestite to the improbably-busty Mune-Mune.
Third, the music. I'm not sure I'd really call it quality music, but the quirky tunes fit well with the show. It's not as outstanding a match as the Pillows with FLCL, but it's far from bad. I found the opening song rather endearing, despite its preponderance of badly-pronounced English.
Fourth, the voice acting. Someone at Gainax seems to have a thing for regional dialects and odd pronunciations. The vast majority of the characters in the series speak in Osaka-ben, which is part of its charm. I wouldn't recommend watching this series dubbed, as the Osaka dialect is transfigured into an irritatingly fake-sounding Texas accent. Again, I can't say that the voice acting in the series quite lives up to the wonder that was FLCL, but it's definitely a cut above average.
Lastly, some general comments. The overall trend of the series seems to be that each episode the two main characters -- Sasshi and Arumi -- find themselves in a new alternate universe version of their home, the Abenobashi shopping arcade. The alternate universes are not so much alternate in the sense of Sliders, as each is a representation of a particular genre or cliche -- with its own 'rules' of reality based upon that. For example, the second episode is based upon fantasy rpgs (such as the older Final Fantasy games), while the second is a mish-mash of science fiction and mecha anime.
The stabs at the convention of each genre are witty and genuinely funny, and this is one of many shows that makes many of its jokes by parodying other anime. Interestingly, Abenobashi unabashedly parodies other anime by Gainax, at one point going so far as to play one of the songs from the show Neon Genesis Evangelion. I think it was at this point that I fell in love with the series. It takes a great sense of humor to be able to make fun of oneself so completely and effectively.
The one serious drawback I can see with this series is that I'm not sure that the conventions and pace that it has set itself can last thirteen episodes without becoming tired and boring. Hopefully at some point the series will break the format which it has presented itself in in order to remain fresh and interesting. If the problem isn't addressed, however, I can see how the latter end of the series could be rather disappointing.
Over all, I must say that I was very impressed with this series. Every time Gainax steps up to the plate, they hit the ball.